Memory Week: Uh …


“Did you bring up my phone?”

My wife asks the question around her toothbrush as I walk into our bedroom after a quick trip downstairs. I reply quickly and easily: “No.”

Her eyebrows furrow, and then I realize that she’s not just asking out of curiosity.

“Was I supposed to bring up your phone?”

The toothbrush stops.

“You told me you were going downstairs,” she says, “and I asked you to bring my phone back up with you.”

I nod.

“I guess I didn’t hear you,” I say. “I mean, did I respond?”

“You said, ‘Sure.'”

My I-think-you-might-have-only-thought-you-asked-me-to-do-that-out-loud defense can only work so many times. Actually, it never has. So I apologize.

“Sorry,” I say—but then I dilute it by adding, “but I have no recollection of you asking me to do anything when I was going downstairs.”

It’s not like this happens every night, but it happens enough for it to register. At 35 years old, I’m not concerned about my memory leaving me, but I do notice that I’ll set something down, walk out of the room, and not be able to find it when I walk back in 30 seconds later.

That has more to do with our house being cluttered, our having three children who whisk things away (I find my frequently worn sandals in places I didn’t take them off), and my general scatter-brainedness than it does with pure memory, I believe. I hope.

One of my favorite movies when I was growing up was The Absent-Minded Professor—the black and white one, from way back before the Robin Williams remake. Being absent minded has always had a charming, eccentric vibe to me, but I realize it’s not so charming to the people who have to put up with the fact that I don’t know exactly where the car keys are or that I don’t have the laundry basket I apparently agreed to bring in from the garage.

I don’t have a huge takeaway from this, either. I’d like to say that I’m going to resolve to pay more deliberate attention in 2014, but I don’t know how realistic that is. Perhaps a genuine apology to my wife will suffice?

I think I’d feel a lot worse about this—am I tuning my wife out and just automatically agreeing with stuff in order to give her some sort of response so she knows her words at least registered with me on some level?—if she didn’t do it too from time to time to me. Not as often. But from time to time.

I think.


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